Even in a tight job market where unemployment rates are high and the economy is in a recession (as it currently is), there are ways to stay ahead of others and to make yourself stand out.
By differentiating yourself (if you view yourself as a commodity or product/service to sell to your boss) amongst other people in your organisation and in the workforce, when eventually the economy recovers and your firm makes a healthy recovery, your superiors will have you in mind during the next round of promotions.
By constantly thinking this way, you not only have better chances at career success but it will also help transform your life in other areas as well.
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So what do you need to do to stand out in the mind of your superiors? Here are habits of successful people that you can adopt for your career success:
*Always think of better ways to do your job.
Think of streamlining procedures and tasks. You can delegate certain tasks to people who are better suited and thus quicker at completing those tasks.
If certain tasks are time consuming and yet are merely performed for the sake of routine, think about cutting some out (if they are non essential).
Focus more time and energy on clients who are producing greater returns for your department or firm.
Continue to be educated e.g. through your company's training modules, if this will mean you can become an expert on a specific topic.
Offer help to your boss and colleagues (if you can spare the time) so that when you encounter problems people are willing to help you sooner and your boss will remember you when it is time for a promotion or pay rise.
*Remember to negotiate.
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In a study of master's degree graduates, Carnegie Mellon economics professor Linda Babcock found that those who negotiated their first salary boosted their pay by 7.4% compared with those who didn't negotiate.
It is so important to negotiate your first (and subsequent) salary since your next pay rise or next job's salary will be based on your first salary. If the bar is set too low, even pay rises will seem insignificant when compared to the salary of your industry peers. So start off on a high and never sell yourself short.
Negotiating is such an important skill for career success as it should be a part of your daily work process. E.g. when your boss comes and asks you to do somthing that is urgent such as compiling a report for a client, negotiate and explain that you are doing something important now but in order to do your boss's task, ask if your current task could be done the next day (instead of you staying back late to finish both tasks).
Negotiating means that your superiors understand your situation and that they won't be constantly bombarding you with "urgent" tasks (especially if they could have asked you to do it earlier). This also applies to your colleagues and friends phoning you at work.
Be polite and sincere but firm as to your own boundaries.
*If you have been with your firm and boss for a while and yet have not been promoted or given a pay rise (if you have satisfactorily fulfilled your duties and maybe not right now but when the economy recovers and your boss is making profits), indicate to your superiors that you have added $x to your departmental or company's bottom line and explain why you think now you have the experience and ability to handle a higher position.
If your superiors do not act and give you a pay rise or promotion, consider whether your own expectations are realistic (objectively determine whether you do have the experience and skills to move on to a higher position or better paying position), and if they are, consider moving onto another job.
However, before you quit your job, do preparatory work such as keeping in touch with your ex-colleagues and networking with industry peers and associations. Also meet up with a few HR agencies and seek their advice as to where you stand within the business hierarchy in terms of experience and skills and let them know that you are looking for a job and ask them to let you know when new oppotunities come up.
Make sure you have a job to go to when you do bring up the topic of pay rise or promotion with your boss, so that you do not quit empty handed.
*Finally, even though in the current economic downturn, there is always the fear that if you do not put in hours of overtime, your boss may sack you. However, there is nothing pretty about an overworked, sleep deprived employee, since your productivity will not be at an optimal level.
So please remember to have as much sleep as is practicable and look after yourself.
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